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io8            A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
your languages—I know Italian and French—while I do not remember one of them who has taken a university course in medicine and the sciences and accepted modern education for what it is worth. As you have noticed, they generally despise such education and regard it as a hindrance. Of course, I do not agree with them."
I collected a small group of doctors and other professional men whose interest I had engaged in these heterodox subjects, and we were privileged to watch a whole series of astonishing, if gruesome, demonstrations which Tahra Bey performed with an ease and swiftness that was astounding.
The fakir had dropped his European clothes; he wore a long robe of white linen. An Arab burnous was tied around his head with double blue and gold cords. A five-pointed, engraved gold star, the emblem of the order into which he had been initiated, hung suspended from a neck-chain, upon his breast. Around his waist there was a golden girdle. He stood with arms folded upon his chest. Around the floor of the room were distributed the various objects and materials to be used in his demonstrations—a table loaded with daggers, hatpins, knives, needles, skewers and bits of glass; another table upon which rested a plank studded with the points of long, sharp nails; a block of heavy stone, a weighing machine and a large hammer; a white fowl and a grey rabbit, both tied by the feet and lying in a basket; two gleaming, polished scythe blades; a pair of trestles, a long coffin, a still longer and larger box, a heap of red sand and a pair of spades; a few hand-towels, some cotton-wool with other odds and ends. A brazier of burning incense filled the room with a soft perfume. Two young men in his employ stood by to act as assistants. Tahra Bey himself then came forward, but remained completely silent. He looked very distinguished under the soft illumination of the electric lamps.
Every article was carefully examined, to satisfy ourselves as to its genuineness and clear our minds of any suspicion of trickery, so far as these things were concerned.
The fakir touched the back of his neck and pressed the skin slightly higher than the nape firmly with his fingers; with the other hand he pressed the temples of his forehead. Then